A Quest 3 Years in the Making.
By Leigh Smith
Editors note: This story may contain a couple bad words, because…well shit happens!
February 14 Saturday
7:00 am left the hotel, stopped at Tim Horton’s, 8:00 showed up to load our sleds on the train to Hawk Junction. www.agawacanyontourtrain.comTrain ride was very nice, bring your own food and drink. At 3:00pm arrived into Hawk Junction. Headed to Erin’s for dinner. Trails where perfect. At Erin’s we meet some real hard core riders who came straight down from Hearst to Erin’s. Real boondocking, they had 2 big 5 gallon cans on their sleds. Arrived into DUBREUILVILLE at 07:30pm, only -19F outside. Staying at a very nice house in Dubreuilville.
So you ask what happened so far this year? well we were unable to ride from Searchmont to Dubreuilville because the trail was closed. Then Thursday morning Dave came down with the flu. He may meet up with us Monday night. 7 sledders right now. Having problems getting fuel in Dubreuilville, but should have it worked out. Jim and Duane got stuck today :). Off tomorrow to Hearst.
February 15th Sunday
Everyone woke up at 06:00am and by 07:00 we were all concerned if the sleds would start. 32F outside. The four stroke engines did better than the two strokes? Thank God Greg and I put the pull start on our sleds. Because we used the pull start with the electric start to get the sleds running. 08:15 off to meet Joan to get gas at the only gas station in town and the pumps would not work correctly. Then had Breakfast at the only restaurant in town.
By 09:00 we were on the trail, but didn’t get a mile before Jim got stuck. Today was starting off well? We took the secondary trail out of DUBREUILVILLE and had a little problem finding it because normally I ride it the other way, this is also known as Ron’s Moose Antler trail.
In Canada they mark the trails green when they are perfect, ours was yellow meaning that it may have been groomed once. It was perfect for us. Groomed once with about 12″ of powder on it. We all had smiles on our faces. Duane managed to bury his sled. Jim had some more fun getting stuck. We took turns breaking trail so that we wouldn’t run out of gas before getting to Hornepayne. After 52 miles we were back on the normal trail and finally making some time. All arrived into Hornepayne around 02:30. Al managed to miss a turn and ended up in a creek, five guys and a few wet feet they got the sled out. We passed Walter the groomer on the trail. It pays to add some cash to his coffee fund. I let him know we were coming and he was making the trail perfect. Yes the trails are perfect, and the best I have seen in 3 years. Left Hornepayne close to 03:30pm and broke into two groups, one slow and one fast. Well that didn’t last long, Duane broke his secondary clutch spring. We all ended up in the slow group then. Once we got him moving he, couldn’t stop, so I would run ahead to make sure the highways were clear for him to cross.
Arrived into Hearst by 06:30pm and -20F. Tomorrow is a fix it day, but one problem, it’s a holiday in Canada, so not sure how much work will get done.
Greg broke a latch on his spare gas tank.
Al broke the wires on his heated visor.
Duane broke the spring on the secondary clutch.
Dave should catch up with us tomorrow night when the train arrives with him and his sled into Hearst at 06:45pm from Sault Ste Marie.
This year for sure, some, if not all of us will make it to Moosonee……
February 16 Monday
This was a hang out and take it easy day. Duane was unable to get anything fixed because it was a Hoilday.
Al and Darren went and did a snowmobile trail loop and had a nice day.
Greg, Jim, Steve and I went out to do some boondocking. First I went and showed them where all three snowmobile dealers are located in town. Then headed north to hook up with some trails that were yellow, lots of powder. Went as far as we could, but the heavy snow had bent a lot of trees down making the trail impassable. We then found a trail someone made and we just had to see where it went. Fresh snowmobile tracks and just wide enough for the sled to fit through. It was like driving down a tunnel for about 5 miles. When we popped out on the lake they were ice fishing.
Back to the main trail 159 headed east bound. Soon we passed a groomer and came to a T in the trail. If we went right we were going to get back early. So we went left to hook in a few more miles. Found some fun places to play of trail. Then headed for Hearst figuring that we would arrive close to empty on gas, but with enough. So I asked the guys who felt they where low on gas and Steve, Greg and Jim where all concerned. I let them lead just in case one ran out of gas we wouldn’t have to back track. They all took off like their they were going to a fire, I didn’t get it.
I finally caught Steve and rode with him, but 5 miles from the gas station I ran out of gas. Steve went and got me some gas. Still waiting for Dave to show. The train is do in at 06:45, but the hotel said they never arrive on time, it is now 09:00pm and no train. Tomorrow it’s off to Smooth Rock Falls 138 miles after we get some things fixed, another easy day.
Well at 10:00pm Dave shows up with no sled. What? The train conductors ran out of duty time and they parked the train 15 miles from Hearst and took a cab. Since Dave was the only passenger on the train at that point, he was able to ride in with the crew to the Hotel. The train kept breaking down and they had to use some of Dave’s tie straps to keep it going. Another crew was to move the train into Hearst over night. So now Dave has to get his sled of the train before it departs for the Soo at 08:00am. You can’t make this shit up.
February 17th Tuesday
Breakfast at 07:00. 08:00 tried to go to the Skidoo dealer, not open till 09:00. The Skidoo dealer was great. Able to fix everyone’s problems.
On the trail by 11:30
Making good time down the trail till three sleds blow the same corner. No one hurt and no bent metal, good thing. Then Dave had a luggage problem. One of his many bags fell to the side and got caught in the snowmobile track and ripped.
-9 today, great temperature for riding with the sun out and blue sky. Trail is in perfect condition, and only 4 other sleds on the trail. Everyone is set for tomorrow, the big day to Moosonee and Moose Factory Island. Will be interesting to see what the day brings. The last two years we have failed in making Moosonee do to break downs.
February 18 Wednesday
We made it… But not with out one hell of a day.
Planned to be on the trail at 08:00, well turned out 08:45.
Arrived into Abitibi Canyon 10:15 left at 11:00am.
Went 6 miles back into Abitibi Canyon and got to the last hill and couldn’t climb it.
The trail was blown in. So I tried to climb the hill straight up, didn’t make it. Had to slide the sled down the hill, then roll it over, ended up bending the handle bars. What fun we are having. Lucked out and had another group going to Moosnee. So back out of the Canyon to get more gas and took a road to reconnect with the trail. Arrived into Moosonee just before dark and minus 15F outside. In the morning they say it should be -25F.
Tomorrow will be interesting….
February 19th Thursday
-25F very cold, got all the sleds running by 07:00am. Again had to use the pull start with the electric starter to get the engine running on the 800 skidoo’s. Took pictures at 08:45 in front of the Moosonee sign. On the trail by 09:00. We hoped to take a different trail back but that turned into a bust. Making good time riding a road and train tracks. Then a train showed up so we had to vacate the tracks. No problem till Jim tried to climb a snow bank and as he came down the backside on the road he accidentally hit the throttle. So off he went and the sled climbed the other snow bank and ended up in the powder on its side with the track running a 100 miles per hour.
The local lineman that have been putting up new electric poles came by and used the winch on their truck to pull the sled out of it’s stuck position. Canadians are great people.
Got into Abitibi Canyon around 02:30 and left by 03:00pm. Half the group took the short cut. While the other group took a different trail to Timmins and arrived at 07:30pm with -29F. I got about 10 miles out of Abitibi Canyon and a piece of my track came off the size of 4″x9″. Cochrane and Timmins do not have tracks to sell. Hopefully the sleds track holds together to get me to Sault Ste Marie. If not I will rent a van and truck it back to the Soo. Had all my clothes on that I brought to keep me warm and they didn’t keep up with the cold, don’t know how the animals do it. Off to Sudbury tomorrow.
February 20 Friday
Woke to -33F…….
Planned to be on the trail at 08:00am.
Stopped for gas and Jim’s hifax were worn past the limits.
The rest of the group went on while Jim and I went to Mikey’s snowmobile store to get some help.
They didn’t open till 09:00am, had to wait 15 minutes, hard for me. Jim needed new hifax and I needed a new track. Turns out I lost a piece of my track 2″ x 10″ long. I was afraid that it would leave me stranded. Took till 12:30 to get both sleds fixed with some problem solving from us. O’ yes you pay for service, but we can ride.
Jim and I put the hammer down, running between 65-70mph to make up time. We kept the sleds out of the corners and enjoyed ourselves. Rolled into Rocky’s bar and grill an hour behind the rest of the group. Darren had some problems with his new 900 ACE, What the heck….Rolled into the hotel at 08:00pm. Things learned, the bolt on the secondary clutch can come out and the sled is still drive able. Darren’s new sled had the bolt come out. Steve rode the sled like that 150 miles. Then at 10:30 pm he got his leatherman out and filed the bad threads off in order to get the bolt back in. They would have used Dave’s wrenches except he lost them out of his bag that got torn by his track, O well…Crazy day but fun after all. Tomorrow is close to 300 mile to Sault Ste Marie. Must eat by 06:00 and be on the trail by 07:00am. We have over 10:00 hours of riding. As you can see, this trip is not for the weak of heart and one lacking money….
Good night. Morning will come soon…..
February 21 Saturday
Woke to -1F, might ride naked today, heat wave with a high of 22F.
Up at 05:30am.
Eat at 06:00am and yes on the trail at 07:00.
Making good time till I rolled my sled the other direction, so now my handle bars are evenly bent. Had a couple sledders practice dismounts today. One was painful, with a bent A-arm on the sled. Checklist, checklist, had one sledder left his bag behind at the Hotel due to being rushed. All arrived into Sault Ste Marie by 08:00pm, yes one long day of riding. The trails were great. Rode the D trail.
I think everyone had a great time and we all did are share of laughing.
Great Guys and friendships.
Hope we can get together next year for a trip some place.
Til then keep riding.
2015 Moosonee trip was a success
An Epic 3 Years in the Making!
The Quest for Moosonee Continues.